Jay Leno “could have died” in veteran car fire

by Steven Cole Smith
16 November 2022 2 min read
Jay Leno “could have died” in veteran car fire
Leno with his other, 1907, White steam car. Photo: Don Kelsen/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Jay Leno, one of America’s best-known and most prolific car enthusiasts, could have lost his life in a flash fire that left the former comedian and chat show host with serious burns to his face.

According to TMZ, a celebrity news website, Leno “could have died in the fire that erupted in his Burbank garage – it was that serious – and we’ve learned it was a friend of his who may have saved his life.

“Jay tells TMZ from his hospital bed that he was working on his 1910 White Steam Car [below] in his famed garage this past Saturday, fixing a clogged fuel line. He says there was a fuel leak and gasoline sprayed on his face and hands. Almost simultaneously a spark triggered an explosion, setting the comedian on fire. Jay, who was rushed to a nearby burn center by ambulance, says he expects to be hospitalized for somewhere between 5 and 10 days.”

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Leno said his “quick-thinking buddy Dave was right there and jumped on him, quickly smothering the flames. The left side of Jay’s face was badly burned … His hands were burned as well. He says he’s now dealing with third-degree burns and may need skin grafts. The burns did not damage his eyes or his ears.”

Steam cars use gasoline or kerosene to fuel the burner, which heats the boiler, to generate the steam needed to propel the car.

Leno is now being treated for his injuries at a specialist burn unit in Los Angeles. He was in his Burbank garage in California where he stores his car collection when the fire happened. He was listed in stable condition as of this writing.

“I got some serious burns from a gasoline fire. I am OK,” reads a statement from Leno to Variety. “Just need a week or two to get back on my feet.”

He was taken to the burn ward at Grossman Burn Center in Los Angeles where he remains. Grossman Burn Centers “are plastic surgery-based medical centers of excellence specializing in the comprehensive treatment of burns – from acute care and reconstruction, to rehabilitation and psychological counseling,” says the organisation’s website.

TMZ says Leno has cancelled all his engagements for two weeks. He was supposed to appear at the Financial Brand Forum on Sunday at the Aria in Las Vegas, but organisers said there was a “very serious medical emergency” that prevented him from showing.

Leno, 72, is of course the standup comic who hosted the Tonight Show on NBC until he retired to pursue his car-collecting hobby full-time. His knowledge of automobiles and motorcycles is near-encyclopedic. (He also owns multiple steam cars, besides the 1910 White.) He hosts Jay Leno’s Garage on CNBC, and a remake of Groucho Marx’s You Bet Your Life that is in syndication, and is a columnist for the Hagerty Drivers Club magazine (in the US).

We’ll update the story as more information comes in. We wish our columnist and friend a speedy recovery.

Via Hagerty US

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